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Confident Afghanistan look to continue winning run against Ireland

05 Mar 2020 CricBuzz

Ever since Mohammad Shahzad powered Afghanistan to an eight-win victory over Ireland in the World T20 Qualifiers in 2010, the two sides have been consistently locking horns with each other in the shortest format. Just that Afghanistan have held a clear edge in terms of their head-to-head record, winning 10 of their last 11 games versus Ireland in T20Is, with one match being called off due to rain.

The Afghanistan side will hope to continue their winning run against Ireland when they face them in the first of the three T20Is in Greater Noida on March 6. Afghanistan have also won a slew of T20I games in the recent past, including a series victory versus the defending World T20 champions, the West Indies.

The Afghanistan camp would look towards Hazratullah Zazai (345 runs in T20Is in 2019), Mohammad Nabi (302 runs in T20Is in 2019), Najibullah Zadran (207 runs in T20Is in 2019) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (227 runs in T20Is in 2019) to shore up the batting. Zazai, in particular, would have happy memories of his stunning unbeaten 162 against the same side last year in Dehradun. On a slightly worrying note, the experienced Asghar Afghan largely struggled for runs in the shortest format last year.

On the bowling front, Rashid Khan would once again spearhead the attack. Mujeeb-ul-Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq and Karim Janat would have to play the supporting roles. Shapoor Zadran, the veteran pacer, is making a comeback. Meanwhile, Ireland would bank on the experienced Paul Stirling alongside Kevin O'Brien and Andy Balbirnie to make an impact with the bat. Gareth Delany, the all-rounder, has also been in fine form in recent times.

The seasoned pacer Boyd Rankin and George Dockrell are the other key members of Ireland's bowling line-up. The European nation, however, would miss out on the services of their leading wicket-taking from last year, Mark Adair. David Delany, the cousin of Gareth, renowned for bowling with an extra burst of pace, is also missing from the squad. The fast bowler suffered a knee injury in the World Cup Qualifiers last year.

When: Afghanistan v Ireland, 1st T20I, Friday March 6, 14:00 local

Where: Greater Noida Sports Complex Ground, Greater Noida

What to expect:Only three T20Is have been played at the ground, with Afghanistan winning all three of them versus Ireland. Rashid has had great success at the stadium, taking nine wickets at a stunning average of 6.11. Unfortunately, a rain shower or two are expected through the course of the day.

Team news

Afghanistan: Ibrahim Zadran played in the T20I series against the West Indies but couldn't make a mark with the bat in hand. With Ibrahim left out of the set-up, Afghanistan may go back to Usman Ghani or the all-rounder Samiullah Shinwari. The promising Qais Ahmad, the legspinner, who bagged four wickets in the BBL versus Sydney Sixers, could also get a game.

Afghanistan squad:Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Hazratullah Zazai, Karim Janat, Najib Zadran, Asghar Afghan (capt), Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Naveen ul Haq, Shapoor Zadran, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Qais Ahmad, Azmatullah Omarzai, Samiullah Shinwari, Usman Ghani.

Ireland: With Adair missing from the action, Shane Getkate, the South African-born all-rounder, could come into the equation. With Gary Wilson not in the squad, Lorcan Tucker is set to take over the wicketkeeping duties.

Ireland squad: Andrew Balbirnie (captain), Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Shane Getkate, Josh Little, Barry McCarthy, Kevin O'Brien, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Gary Wilson, Craig Young.


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